Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1–36

Clause-internal wh-movement in Archaic Chinese


DOI: 10.1007/s10831-009-9054-z

Cite this article as:
Aldridge, E. J East Asian Linguist (2010) 19: 1. doi:10.1007/s10831-009-9054-z


This paper proposes an analysis of wh-movement in late archaic Chinese as clause-internal focus fronting to the edge of vP. The paper further shows that archaic Chinese wh-words were indefinites, as in modern Chinese, and that their interpretation was obtained in the c-command domain of an appropriate trigger, a base-generated operator in [Spec, CP] in the case of wh-questions. The non-quantificational status of wh-words accords well with the short movement analysis since this movement did not serve to place the wh-word in the interrogative scope position in the left periphery of the clause. In this way, the paper also offers a contribution to the growing debate concerning the relationship between wh-movement and the status of wh-words as operators or indefinites. The conclusion here is that movement of wh-indefinites is not unexpected if the landing site is lower than the interrogative scope position.


wh-movement wh-indefinites Phase theory Unselectivebinding Extended Projection Principle (EPP) Historical syntax 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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